The River: Not Your Average Cruise Experience
by Celece Seegmiller for The Spectrum Newspaper, 9/25/12
One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the travel business is meeting with my clients when they return from their vacations. While the planning process and anticipation is exciting, seeing the photos and hearing about their adventures are what I love most. After hearing travel tales for the past two decades, I can honestly say that some of our happiest customers are those who have returned from a river cruise. Perhaps it is because the experience is so different from an ocean cruise or maybe it is because they get to spend more time in the ports, experiencing the culture. One thing I know for sure is that our satisfaction rate is the highest among our river cruise passengers.
Perhaps you are new to cruising or you want a change from the floating “cities at sea”. Experienced and first-time cruisers alike have discovered the advantages of river cruising, making it one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry. Just a few of the advantages include:
• See the World’s Great Cities – Hassle Free: Many cities were developed along the waterways, accessible by river, not ocean.
• New Scenery – All Day, Every Day: Enjoy breathtaking scenery from your oceanview room and wake up in an exciting new city every day.
• Elegant, Comfortable Ships: Comparable to a fine hotel with expansive, panoramic views with gourmet cuisine at every meal.
• Less Time Getting There – More Time Being There: Rivers provide easy access to the city centers. Sail directly into the heart of every city and dock in the middle of town.
• Smooth Sailing: The small, flat-bottomed shape of river cruise ships ensure a safe and smooth ride without motion sickness. With only 150-300 guests, you can forget about waiting in long lines and enjoy personable service.
• Historical & Cultural Enrichment: Explore civilization through on-board demonstrations, lectures, and workshops.
• All Inclusive Packages: Your fare covers meals, wine with every dinner, shore excursions, lectures, and cultural experiences.
Unlike ocean cruises, passengers sail directly into the heart of every destination and dock in the middle of town. There’s no need to navigate maps or to waste time traveling on crowded city streets from the port to the ship. Shore excursions and culture enrichment programs, provided by expert tour directors who offer regional prospective, are included in the price of the cruise. Imagine a stop at a local school in China during a Yangtze River Cruise, or learning about the life and works of Mozart during a cruise on the Danube. River cruises also feature special events such as the world-famous Christmas markets or tulips and windmills in the spring.
Viking River Cruises is one of the most popular river cruise lines and their tag line is “The World’s Leading River Cruise Line…. By Far.” They set themselves apart by offering unique amenities and services and will have a total of 14 new longships by the end of 2013.
Viking also enhanced their food and culture program for 2013. Viking’s signature “Taste Of” events are a great introduction to the food and drink of the region. These delightful informal gatherings are as much a visual feast as an edible one and an extension of our core concept that great food and wine go hand in hand with new places and wonderful friends. The “Culture Curriculum” includes a broad range of immersive activities, on board and ashore, including cooking demonstrations, visits to local markets, classical musicians and more— so you can truly appreciate the countries you visit.
The only downside to the river cruise is deciding on an itinerary. Viking visits over 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world. Cruises range from the 23 day European Sojourn from Amsterdam to Bucharest, to the 15 day Magnificent Mekong from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and everything in between. There are more options than ever before and regardless of the itinerary and destination, Viking will provide a vacation to remember to novice and seasoned travelers alike.